Tag Archives: stress reduction

Wellness at Work

Wellness at Work is a big trend these days. It’s a no brainer for employers. If you want to reduce sick and disability pay and retain your employees for longer than six months, it’s a must. For employers who need to tighten the belt on nurse retention this is a big deal. Creating work environments that promote health and wellness not just for patients, but employees is a must to be competitive in the marketplace.

If you are a nurse working in a hospital have you ever stopped to consider the physical environment? I am talking about the air quality, the noise, the furnishings, the access to nature.  Imagine if hospitals started designing our work spaces with our health in mind…….

I worked at a hospital that had beautiful landscaping and access to nature. It was so refreshing to step outside and escape in the natural surroundings just for a few minutes. I always returned refreshed and less stressed. Sometimes, it’s the simplest things that can make the biggest impact.

Some facilities provide activities and outlets for their nurses to renew and relax, like this massage chair at  Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Midwestern Regional Medical Center in Zion, IL. It is the brainchild of Jillianne Shriver, RN, BSN, HN-BC, a team lead for the inpatient medical oncology unit who thought of it after attending a training on holistic nursing. She literally used an old storage closet and filled the room with a massage chair and other items for relaxation, such as: tools for aromatherapy, journaling, a yoga mat, Tibetan singing bowls, and a small water feature.  Check it out here: Nurse Renewal

Nurses need a place to unwind and debrief while on the job. It just makes good sense. All parties win. Employer, nurse, and patient. I love seeing nurses creating simple solutions that make staying well on the job easier and it is refreshing to see collaboration from employers seeking this input.

I love creativity, innovation, sustainability, pushing the edge (in a healthy way), and non-toxic everything. So, when I stumbled across Natalie Nixon’s article, 8 Ways to Design Health Care, I was very interested. The article is so chock-full of awesome, but I only want to talk about the first point she makes. Read it in its entirety here: Health Care Design

The first point she makes is about “modular health” and how physical structures and indoor environments impact our health. At Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota they have something called the Well Living Lab which is a research facility dedicated to studying how our physical environments impact our health and finding ways to create healthier indoor spaces. Check it out here: Well Living Lab 

This design is the brainchild of Delos, a company that focuses on seven categories relevant to indoor health: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind.  Delos is the pioneer of Wellness Real Estate™, a business that places health and wellness at the center of design and construction.

These are all things I can support. What about you? What cool things is your hospital or work environment doing to promote your wellness as a nurse?

Keep innovating and expecting great things,

Lisbeth

Laughter and Yoga

Laughter is the best medicine. It reduces stress, transports you to the present moment, and helps strengthen your abs. Laughter is inherent in the daily experience of children and seems to lessen with age and responsibility.

This is a picture of me as a young girl laughing away as I often did when being entertained by others.

I love the benefits that I receive when I enjoy a good belly laugh and I love the way I feel mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually during and after I practice yoga.

When you combine the two, what happens is nothing short of majestic.  Laughter + Yoga= BIG F-U-N.

Here are my favorite reasons to practice laughter yoga and yoga:

  • it boosts your “feel good” endorphins
  • it’s free
  • it feels good
  • it increases your vibration, which equates to better health
  • it relieves stress, tension, anxiety, and reduces blood pressure

I want to invite you into my Nurse Healing Lounge for a hilarious dose of laughter yoga. It will only take about twelve minutes and the payoff is huge, if you participate.

Go ahead, go all in, what have you got to lose?

In this episode, Giggle with us here Sarah Routman, of Serious Giggles guides us through some simple, yet profound laughter yoga exercises to help my friend Liz and me get our giggle on.

Please enjoy, share, and repeat.

Please share your favorite part about this exercise. I personally love the smile “push ups”!

What can you do  now to start laughing more often?

For more laughter yoga, check out Sarah’s amazing work at:   Sarah’s website

In laughter and gratitude,

Lisbeth

 

My Experiment with JOY, in 21 Days

I recently committed myself to an experiment of focusing on creating joy. It went like this, for twenty one days every morning when I woke up I smiled at myself and made a joyful connection with my soul as I looked at myself in the mirror.

I also made an effort to smile throughout my day; especially if I was not experiencing joy.

I also made an effort to see how many people I could get to smile back at me when I was out and about. I captured my experience on periscope. You can check out the episodes on www.katch.me  by searching my handle, “endoverwhelmnow” or check out one of the episodes by clicking here watch now.

Joy is a natural state of being, but one that is not very familiar to most of us. In fact, I would venture to say that a more familiar experience for most of us is a state of struggle, not joy.

I enjoy sharing simple actions that enhance the quality and awesome factor in life.

Life is too short to not be creating our own magic. 

I did not know what to expect from my commitment, but was pleasantly surprised by the gift that it revealed to me. Here is what committing to joy through the simple act of a smile showed me:

  • Joy is our true nature.
  • Simple things can create the most profound experience.
  • Paying attention and being aware of simple things reveal treasures.
  • The more you practice, the easier it gets.
  • Focusing on joy naturally shifts your energy to ease and contentment from the inside out.
  • Practice makes progress.
  • Smiling is contagious.
  • What we seek is also seeking us.
  • Where we place our intention, energy flows.
  • Everything is easier when you smile.
  • It takes fewer muscles to smile than it does to frown.
  • Smiling at your own soul is extremely healing.
  • When you tell the universe what you want, it will be provided to you in spades.
  • On the days I did not feel like smiling, I did it anyway, and it always made me feel better.
  • There are so many people walking the planet who are suffering and not smiling.
  • With a little encouragement, we can help lift ourselves and others up.
  • Turning the corners of the mouth up into a smile changes the body chemistry, in a good way.
  • The body is seeking signals from your mind. Smiling can help create positive thoughts, thereby, helping you create positive experiences.
  • Smiling at yourself provides a glimpse into your soul.
  • When you smile, your heart opens a little wider.
  • When you smile, it gives others the invitation to do the same.
  • It is near impossible to smile and be crabby at the same time.
  • Smiling is good for your health.
  • If you want free, guaranteed inner and outer beauty, smile.

This experiment showed me how simple it is to shift my energy once I make the commitment and intention to do so.  Once you commit, the universe lines up to help you create your desire. I know that I can create whatever it is that I want in life. You too are a creator. You can apply this experiment to anything in life, eating better, weight loss, happiness, connecting with others. 

Create your own change:

  1. Decide what you want to create.
  2. Set the intention to focus on that one thing for 21 days.
  3. Act on your intention for 21 days.
  4. Record the process in a journal or video to keep you accountable.
  5. Share your experience with others.
  6. Reflect on what you were able to create or change in your life.

How often are you currently smiling? Would you be willing to try smiling more often?

Please share your experience with joy and what tips you can share to help us cultivate more joy.

What tips can you share to encourage others to become creators in their own lives?

Wishing you a holiday season with loads of joy and abundance.

Lisbeth

 

Bust Stress Boost Energy by Tweaking this one thing that you do everyday

Bust Stress

Boost Energy

by Tweaking This One Thing That you do Everyday

As a society, we can’t do things quickly enough. It seems the latest thing to fall victim to this sprint mentality is eating. Our world is insta-everything, connected 24-7, and everything is focused on convenience and “saving time.”  As a result, our bodies are operating in chronic stress mode and have more stress and less energy.

As a coach, I have never been told that someone wants less energy; however, I am always asked how clients can reduce stress. Through my certifications in holistic stress management and integrative nutrition I have learned powerful, yet simple techniques to reduce the effects of stress and boost energy. They have one thing in common, the mind.

I continually seek ways that are simple and effective in helping me improve the quality of my life. Once I learn these tools, I pass them on to my clients and everyone that I meet. The latest tool comes from my training and personal experience in mindfulness.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, the creator of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in the 1970’s defines mindfulness as  “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally”. Essentially, practicing mindfulness whether for five minutes or forty-five, anchors you in the moment, removing you from ruminating about what happened yesterday or fixating on what’s to happen tomorrow. The outcome is the absence of suffering. Suffering is being anywhere, but in the moment. Without stress and suffering, we have more focus, attention, awareness, and contentment. This same principle can be applied to something that we do everyday, eating.

I view eating as an opportunity to heal by tuning into the intelligence of the body and our own intuition about what it is that our bodies need in the moment. The human body is extremely intelligent and the gut is actually referred to as the second brain and makes up the enteric nervous system. It is where the immune system is housed and how we bring the outside world in. Our bodies are continually sending us signals and warning signs. Unfortunately, we often miss them because we are so busy and distracted.

Here is a snapshot of how stress manifests in the body over time. When your body is in chronic stress mode all of your systems are on high alert all the time and your organs are working way harder than necessary (lungs, heart, liver, pancreas, stomach, intestines).

Your mind does not know the difference between a real threat, being chased by a lion and the thoughts circulating in your mind that are of a threatening nature. Such as, you are worried that you are going to loose your job. So, your body’s fight or flight mechanism kicks in, ready to deal with the threat in either scenario. The trouble is, the fight or flight response is only supposed to last for the time in which your body deciphers something as a threat, and either fights or flees and then returns back to homeostasis. However, your body never gets a break from this cycle, and it becomes chronic.

This is extremely taxing on the mind~body system as a whole. Over time it can create anxiety, sleep disturbances, digestion problems, relationship problems, weight gain, palpitations, exhaustion, and memory issues.

Our bodies’ response to stress has not evolved with time and instead of slowing down and using effective techniques to de-stress, we continually add fuel to the fire. I never imagined that eating quickly could cause my body more stress.

So, how can you reduce the effects of stress and boost energy by tweaking one thing that you do everyday?

Eat mindfully at least once a day.

The road warrior diet (eating in the car), corporate diet (eating as you multitask at your desk), and nurse diet (scarfing down a few bites as you steal away to the break room), all diets that I have been privy to are a few examples of adding fuel to the “stress” fire through mindless eating.

When we eat mindfully we can watch for and notice important clues about how nutrition affects us and make changes accordingly but more importantly in my book, enjoy our food.

Digestion is a bodily process that takes a ton of energy. When we are ingesting a meal in a stressful manner, we are creating even more stress for our bodies. During the stress response, the blood is shunted away from the digestive organs to the primary organs in preparation for a fight or to fuel the muscles to flee quickly.

So, you can kill two birds with one stone, reduce stress and receive the maximal nutrient benefits of your food by taking the TIME to slow down and eat a meal in a relaxed way.  This is a way to eat mindfully.

Everyone eats and the body can not survive without fuel. So many people are making the effort to eat healthier but have no idea that greens for example must be chewed up into very small pieces in order for the gut to be able to absorb the nutrients. Instead, we take one bite and slam it with a swig of our favorite diet beverage or coffee. Not to mention, we have no idea what the food tastes like because we scarfed it down so fast we don’t have time to smell it.

Food is meant to be enjoyed in my book. When I take the time to enjoy my food, my body receives maximum benefits and I only eat what I need.

Studies show that the first several bites of our food are the peak of our sensory experience with it and this declines over the course of the meal. This is referred to as the satiety cascade. We eat for fuel, but another big part of eating is a sensation of satisfaction or a feeling of satiety or fullness. If satisfaction peaks during the first few bites of our food and we are not paying attention to the taste, flavor, smell, texture, or how it makes us feel, we miss all the benefits!

The result is, more stress to our already stressed out bodies, more food than we really need and we are never truly satisfied. End result: more stress, weight gain, and less energy.

I invite you to pause before your next meal. Consider treating your meal as a sacred event. Your body is your vehicle for everything. If you have a Porsche, I am sure you treat it with the best fuel that money can buy.

Simple ways to enjoy a mindful meal:

Find a place where you can sit down at a table. Place your feet on the floor.

Offer gratitude for your meal.

Pretend it’s the first time you have ever had this food.

Use all of your senses to heighten your satisfaction of the meal.

Smell your food before you take the first bite.

Try and chew your food at least ten times before swallowing. This helps the flavor linger in your mouth longer and helps break down the food, especially greens so you get maximum absorption and energy in the gut. It also helps slow you down.

Eat in silence.

Put your fork down in between bites.

Eat with your non-dominant hand.

Enjoy a conversation over your meal.

Refrain from multitasking as you eat.

Make your meal your main focus.

Make this an opportunity to heal.

Ask your body what it really needs.

Notice how you feel emotionally before you eat.

Ask yourself if you are hungry before you eat.

Notice how you feel after you eat.

I hope that this information serves you in the best possible way and that you can implement some of these techniques to improve the quality of your life.

Life is too short not to live fully.

Please share what tips you are willing to try and what struggles you have had with eating mindfully.

Blessings,

Lisbeth

Three Crucial Lessons I Learned About Being A Healer, That Nursing School Could Not Teach Me

I feel so blessed by my nursing career and what it has allowed me to become (A Healed Healer). I offer up this post in gratitude on this day of Thanksgiving. I hope that you find some treasure in it that may serve your life in a positive way.

Nursing school is set-up to prepare nurses to take care of and guide patients. Nursing school gives nurses the skills and experiences in simulated and live environments to become master observers and assessors. Teaching students to be able to pick up on the obvious and subtle queues in hopes to prevent or stop a patient’s condition from going from bad to worse. This is no small task.

My introduction to the medical world first came from my father who was a physician and my mom who was a nurse. My parents divorced and eventually both remarried. Between them, were three physicians and a nurse. I got to see so much about health care.

I did not set out to become a nurse but decided after graduating with a bachelor’s of science degree in exercise science that becoming a nurse would provide me with both opportunity and flexibility which were important to me, because someday I wanted to have a family.

Coming from a lineage of health care practitioners, I thought I would breeze through nursing school having had so much exposure to the medical world as well as my degree in exercise science. It turns out, my assumptions were way off base.

Nursing school was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I ate, drank, and slept nursing school. My entire focus was learning as much as possible so I could graduate and start practicing. The irony is, nursing school is essentially a big stress fest. I suppose in a way, it is just preparing nurses for the stressors of the job.

I wish there was a way to make nursing school less stressful. I don’t believe people learn as much when they are stressed out. I can remember many stressful times during my time in nursing school, that involved both stress from the classroom wondering if I would ever be able to remember everything and the fear of harming a patient during clinicals.

One such event sticks in my mind like it was yesterday, it involved skills lab and learning to give intramuscular injections.

My lab partner was absolutely petrified of giving shots. She demonstrated beautifully for me, how not to give an injection. As I sat waiting for her to inject my thigh with sterile saline, it was obvious she was terrified.  The fear was palpable in her facial expression and guarded body posture. This made me feel very anxious. She would reach toward my thigh, acting as if she was going to give me the injection, and would then freakout and pull back. I remember saying to her, “really, you have to just do it” and all the while I was thinking, you can not do this to a real person, because they would run away from you! That was a great lesson for me about the importance of body language and the importance of exuding confidence in front of your patients, even if you are frightened to death. In reflection, this is actually funny to me now, but at the time it was stressful for both of us.

I feel like I received a wonderful nursing education and after practicing nursing for seventeen years, I can say with confidence that there are three crucial lessons that nursing school did not teach me that would have been really nice to know.

Effective Communication Is the Cornerstone of Great Care

Effective communication is the cornerstone of good care. As patient advocates, a nurse absolutely must know how to communicate effectively and with ease. As they say, communication is everything. Effective communication involves both the written and spoken word and can mean the difference between life and death. A nurse must be able to communicate effectively with every person on the care team; but most importantly, their patients.

The Importance of Good Self-Care and Setting Boundaries

Nurses must be aware of the importance of setting and practicing firm boundaries and the necessity of practicing routine self-care. When a nurse has firm boundaries they are protecting their own health and not allowing external circumstances or people change how they care for themselves. Firm boundaries are also a crucial part of healthy communication with others. Nurses with firm boundaries demonstrate self-respect and when treated disrespectfully will respectfully communicate to anyone who is stepping over that boundary that they are doing so and will not engage with them when they are treating you in such a way. When nurses have weak boundaries it makes everything harder, especially making self-care a priority. Nurses are by nature, givers and sometimes prefer to give than receive. To navigate a career in nursing, that ensures the health and wellness of mind, body, and spirit, you must be willing to receive care for yourself and have firm boundaries.

A Nurse’s Job is Not to Fix People

As a nurse, it is not your job to “fix” people. Rather, the nurse’s role is to hold the space for patients to heal by reminding them that they have the capacity to heal and that nurses can help guide them. Caring for patients is stressful as it is and carrying the burden that it is the nurse’s job to fix patients sets nurses up for disappointment and feelings of failure. Nurses are guides and role models. The more nurses can model healthful living, the better it is for all.

Life is about the journey, not the destination. I have been a registered nurse for seventeen years and I have just come to the realization that I am far more than a nurse, I am a healer. I believe that a healer is a practitioner who poetically weaves evidence based science and compassionate care into the journey of a person’s life without so much as a second thought. I believe a healer also models a lifestyle that is holistic in nature and understands the interconnectedness of emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical wellbeing. Living in such a way acts as a mirror for what others can do to optimize their own vitality.

This revelation or stroke of insight came from life experience and my own healing journey. I feel my journey may have been easier had I started out knowing these three lessons, but I also believe that we learn the lesson we need when we are ready. Either way, I feel blessed.

I wish only the best for you on your life journey. Remember that you already possess exactly what you need to thrive, sometimes you just need a gentle reminder.

What has your nursing school experience been like? What lesson has life taught you that school could not?

Peace and abundance,

Lisbeth

 

The Top 3 Mistakes that Keep us Stressed and Unwell

As a culture, we live so habitually. We go from one day to the next without much INTENTION or AWARENESS about what is happening moment to moment. As a result, we lose so much of the opportunity to NOTICE the nuances which could be anything from joy to a signal from our body that something is not right. For many of us, what this looks like over time is a total disconnect between mind and body. We are whole by nature, so when we live in a way that honors “all parts of us”, we are much more likely to thrive in health and happiness. I chose three categories to demonstrate how we sabotage our own health which keeps us stuck in chronic stress and in poor health.

  1. Time Vampires: Time is really the only constant for all. We each have twenty four hours in a day. Most of us wish for more time. People who are not living INTENTIONALLY tend to fall into one of two camps, the “auto-pilots” and the “multitaskers”. The auto-pilots are checked out and not much registers with them or gets their attention. The multitaskers assume since they are doing multiple things simultaneously, that they are super efficient. Studies show that the opposite is true. When we multitask and frequently get interrupted, we become less efficient. Regardless of which camp you fall into, neither approach is very fulfilling and keeps the body in chronic stress mode which will eventually catch up with you in the form of (dis)ease.
  2. The Sleep Robbers: Sleep has become so un-essential to our day to day existence. It’s this attitude of, “if I can sleep for a few hours, great, otherwise….no big deal”! Actually sleep is a BIG deal and crucial to great health. Here’s why, when we get good deep sleep and actually go through the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep, when we are actively dreaming, the brain has time to assimilate all of the information it has gathered throughout the day. It’s like emptying the basket as it were. When this doesn’t happen, things get backed up and can cause premature aging. It can also lead to trouble with memory.  The other function of good restful sleep is hormone regulation. Without good sleep, the  hormones responsible for regulating appetite (gherlin) and satiety (feeling satisfied) (leptin) become dysregulated. You may wake up after a very short night’s sleep and feel more hungry than usual, but no matter what you eat, you never feel satisfied.
  3. Nutritional Nightmares: Have you heard that stressed is desserts spelled backwards?! When humans are stressed, we tend to reach for quick and convenient foods. Unfortunately, this typically means foods that are loaded with fat, salt, and added sugar. The human body was not built to be able to properly digest these foods. Think of the caveman foods! The actual process of trying to digest convenience foods puts the body into stress mode, when we were already stressed to start with. That’s where the chronic nature of stress rears it’s ugly head. Being well certainly requires eating the right types of food, full of healthy vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. However, just as important to our nutritional habits are not what we eat, but HOW we eat. The “road warrior” diet, eating in the car is stressful in and of itself. Mindless eating, eating while simultaneously texting, emailing, talking on the phone, and surfing social media is no environment for receiving the potential benefits of the fuel we are feeding our bodies. I believe eating is a sacred event and each time we eat is an opportunity to heal the body. As families, the dinner table is more like a hotel buffet with a revolving door. Everyone is eating different foods at different times and there is minimal community or sharing time with one another discussing the events of the day over a home cooked meal prepared with love.

Now that I have stressed you out, let me share some tips that have helped my family and me be more mindful and intentional about our health and daily habits:  

  1. Time Vampires: Spend five minutes before you get out of bed to focus on the positive and how you plan to spend your energy during the day. Cluster similar tasks together and do them at set times during your day (emails/phone calls), (laundry/dishes) and (exercise/errands). Document for three days how you spend every hour of your day (you will be surprised how much precious time social media surfing can use). Plan out a weekly dinner menu on Sundays and purchase the groceries and prep as much stuff ahead of time as you are able, so you have a few containers of healthy snacks ready to go in the fridge for lunches and school that are washed, cut, and ready to grab. Get your family involved in the process; especially your kids. They can learn about the importance of healthy food at home and will feel more vested in the outcome if they are helping prepare things.
  2. Sleep Robbers: Start preparing your body for sleep way before “lights out” time. Explore sleep hygiene rituals that signal to your mind and body that a time of rest is soon approaching, such as: drinking a cup of warm decaf tea, gentle stretching or restorative yoga, meditation or prayer, light a candle and journal your gratitude, read a relaxing book, take a warm bath with epsom salts and lavender oil, listen to soothing music, read to your child, and consider cutting out caffeine and screen time two hours before sleep.
  3. Nutritional Nightmares: Begin each morning with a glass of warm water with fresh squeezed organic lemon juice (this stimulates your gut and promotes healthy digestion), experiment with green smoothies for breakfast, eat one meal a day for your immune system (think foods that are the colors of the rainbow-green veggies help reduce inflammation in the body because they are alkaline and healing), and eat at least one mindful meal a day (sit down to eat, feet on the floor, offer up some gratitude for your meal, explore each bite as if it were your first time eating this food, do nothing else other than eat, and notice how you feel before, during, and after your meal.

I hope this has sparked your curiosity and given you a few ideas to be more AWARE, MINDFUL, and INTENTIONAL, so that you may start to explore your daily habits, not from a place of judgement, but self-compassion and kindness.

Please share which of these three areas resonates with you and why.

Peace,

Lisbeth

Are you missing these two key ingredients to reduce stress and solve problems?

Are you missing these two key ingredients to reduce stress and solve problems?

Have you ever tried to make a quick decision when you were stressed out or craft a creative solution to a problem under a tight deadline? It’s not that easy is it? That is because all sense of reason goes out the window when we are in stress mode. Stress can also sabotage our creativity when we are rushed or trying to force a solution in a short amount of time.

Here’s the great news. These key ingredients don’t really take a lot of effort and are actually FUN!

Are your ready for the key ingredients that help reduce stress and solve problems?

The ingredients are play and creativity. Yes, you read that correctly, I said play!

When I refer to play, I am referring to any activity that you love that brings you immense joy and creates the sensation as if time is standing still, and your thoughts are centered around nothing, but the moment you’re in, total bliss.

I was reminded of the power of play in reducing stress and boosting creativity at a conference that I attended in May.  It was my first American Holistic Nurses Association conference and the activities that I engaged in totally brought out my inner child. I laughed more in those four days than I have laughed in a really long time. It gave me immense stress relief and a fresh perspective on life. I had the sensation that I was at camp with my best friends. I honestly did not want the time to come to an end. Instead of dreading the departure, I felt great knowing that I would carry the sweet new tools that I had discovered along with the beautiful memories that I could use and reflect upon in times of stress in the future.

Play, especially for adults can help bring out your inner child, allowing you a fresh perspective. Children are great at showing us the world through this lens. Chances are, when you play, you are more likely to laugh. This is a win-win in my book. Here’s why, laughing is actually good for you.

Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies which help boost your immune system. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/emotional-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm

In addition to play, the other ingredient that helps solve problems and reduce stress is creativity.

I have experienced the power of creativity often and I am just amazed at the science behind how and why I have these “aha” moments at what feel like the oddest times. The science behind creative problem solving involves things like negative ions and using both hemispheres of the brain.

Have you ever wracked your brain all day to come up with a solution and as soon as you do something routine, like take a bath or a shower, the solution comes to you? This happens to me often.

Meet your best creative wing mates, the negative ions.

Negative ions are electrons that can’t be smelled, tasted, or seen and are created in nature when they gain or lose an electrical charge when they break apart due to sunlight, radiation, and moving air and water.  Think mountains, waterfalls, and beaches. They are inhaled and once they make it to our bloodstream, they are believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost our daytime energy.

The larger the body of water, the higher the concentration of negative ions. Maybe that’s why we feel so great at the beach. However, do not fret if you are not close to the beach, your own shower or bath will do, they are the perfect negative ionizers!

http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/negative-ions-create-positive-vibes

The other type of electrons floating around in our environment are positive ions and are emitted from electronic equipment, such as: computers, televisions, appliances, and air conditioning. No wonder it feels so good to get out in the fresh air and around water after spending all day on the computer and telephone!

Wait, there’s more science to this creativity thing…..Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that lends itself to a proliferation of solution-type ideas. Activities that increase this are the ones that help you relax, like a nice warm bath or shower.

The other piece of the puzzle in creating solutions is the art of distraction. When we are doing something routine, such as taking a shower, our brains can relax a bit and our focus becomes more distracted and the subconscious mind is able to solve or offer up solutions that can come into our consciousness that resolve our problems.

So, now that you have some insight into the benefits of play and upping your negative ions to boost your creativity, when are you going to schedule in some time to play?  

Play is inherent in the schedule of infants and toddlers. This is how they make sense of the world.  Kids play in nature, they play sports and musical instruments, and they laugh a lot. In contrast, adults, may perform in a play, or play an instrument in a band, or play sports for fun, but past that, most adults do not make play a priority. Why is this?

I believe societal norms and expectations are partly to blame. People may judge us if we are “playing” and expect that playing is reserved only for the “young people”.  You see, as children we are just doing our thing and have no reason to question or judge how we explore and play. Then, adults start sabotaging our play time and making comments that start to infringe on that play time or creative flow, such as, “you need to color more in the lines” or “you need to do a better job of cutting on the lines with those scissors”, or maybe “why are you always dressing up in those funny outfits all the time”?

After years of being told that we’re doing it wrong, we stop playing and it stifles our creativity. I believe we are each creative, but somewhere along the way, we forget that and then we stop allowing ourselves the opportunity for play, which takes a major toll on our overall creativity. This leaves us with fewer options for helping us reduce stress in a natural way or an outlet to come up with creative solutions to what troubles us.

Over time, we lose sight of the things that bring us joy and we stop flexing that play muscle. As a result, our ability to solve problems creatively suffers and we start to believe that maybe we just aren’t that creative anyway.

If you feel unmotivated, stuck in a rut, or like you can never come up with solutions to what plagues you, perhaps all you need is a little more play or unstructured time to be free throughout your day.

Why else might you want to include more play into your life. Oh, I know, it’s FUN and your kids will totally enjoy seeing you happy and having fun and it’s just plain good for your health. It’s free. There is no limit to what you can do. It’s contagious. The more you practice playing, the more you will want to play. The more you play, the less overwhelmed and stuck you will feel and the creative solutions will start flowing in like there’s no tomorrow.

For me, this is dancing. I know that it is nearly impossible to be crabby and dance simultaneously. I dare you to try it! What is that one thing that brings you total immersion of joy and bliss?

Play gives our brains and bodies the space to let go, move and feel freely without limits. There is no attachment to outcomes of any kind. Just pure and simple enjoyment.

So, I hope this has inspired you immensely to be more playful.

If you liked this article, please share three things that you will apply from this in your life and why.

Writing this inspired me so much, that I am off to run at my favorite lake!!

Until next time………….play away,

Lisbeth